The true definition of what makes a feminist text remains undecided, but can largely be received in light of strong female characters, social commentary, themes and the political stance taken by the author. For a question devoid of objective answers, I believe that in this instance it is best to take a more general approach. The strength of Charlotte Brontë's position as a feminist in literature is open to interpretation, but the impact she left was certainly a solid one. .
Liberation was a limited blessing for women in the Victorian era. Natural careers available were rarely more adventurous than domestic roles such as maids, or in Charlotte's case, governesses- an occupation echoed throughout her novels as a testament of her girlhood. Women were objects of attraction; existing to serve the purpose of the male eye alone, and in a time of blonde haired and blue eyed beauty ideals, her often plain protagonists found themselves tested by society in more ways than one. Beauty was the foundation of power, and a common presentation of women without said asset was hardly accidental. Her novels were merely an excerpt into the authority a female could command, with or without a face 'worthy' of a man's attention. .
Jane Eyre is in some ways the epitome of the plain, powerful voice Charlotte strove to lend a platform to. Reserved, dignified, and rigidly against the grain, Jane may be dwarfed by Blanche Ingram's beauty, but she certainly does not let this stop her in her endeavours. Despite the contrast in their approaches, it is interesting to note the overwhelming difference in the social role that Mr Rochester aims to serve in marriage. Whereas appearance could arguably make or break an attachment for a woman, this is not so much the case for the male sex, as demonstrated by Blanche in her dialect:.
"Whenever I marry," she continued, after a pause which none interrupted, "I am resolved my husband shall not be a rival, but a foil to me.